On one level this was what Google Checkout was originally intended to be: a trusted, simple way to pay for things across the Web. But Checkout has largely failed to gain consumer adoption to date, although Google is trying to revive it in several ways (including making it the payments platform for Android apps).
However the new Amazon “PayPhrase” system is really innovative and could be used in the real world for transactions, though that’s not part of the marketing. Here’s how it works:
PayPhrase links your Amazon.com payment and shipping information with a simple phrase that you choose. With PayPhrase, you no longer have to register or share credit card information with multiple web sites.
Use your Amazon PayPhrase to quickly checkout wherever you see the PayPhrase button – on Amazon.com and other sites across the web including DKNY, Jockey, Patagonia, Buy.com, J&R Electronics, and Car Toys to name a few.
I just wrote about the real-world opportunity for mobile payment systems such as Zong. That exists equally for PayPhrase and perhaps there’s even a bigger opportunity because of Amazon’s reach, trusted brand status, etc.
Imagine if you could pay your restaurant bill by invoking your “pay phrase” and pin number. Very very interesting. Even if it’s limited to online payments it removes lots of friction from the system because you don’t have to get out a credit card and go through the pain of re-entering the information. This might also facilitate more e-commerce via the mobile phone — you’re in a store but you find it cheaper online — because there are no credit card numbers to painfully enter on the tiny handset keyboard.